Wednesday, August 8, 2012

white bean salad/mustard maple carrots

Like my most recent entry (which was a while ago, sorry), this post doesn't feature the best looking photograph, but it does have one new take on a Cascone classic, as well as two brand new side dishes, so I hope that will help to make up for the poorly lit picture.

First, there was macaroni and cheese, covered fairly extensively here on Garlicus Maximus in the past. As I've mentioned before, Nathan is borderline obsessed with my mac and cheese, so he doesn't really like me to tinker with the recipe. Unfortunately, I'm always reading delicious sounding recipes with new exciting mac and cheese ideas, not to mention cheese is expensive so I'll use different kinds depending on what's most affordable at the time. 

In this particular instance, I had found a recipe that featured a spin on the traditional bechamel sauce called soubise sauce that's usually jazzed up mainly with caramelized onions. This one was also meant to include shallots, sherry, nutmeg, cayenne, smoked paprika, mustard, and fish sauce, which caused Nathan to freak out a little. He was doing the shopping, so he refused to buy fish sauce or sherry, claiming that such adulterants would ruin his favorite meal. I thought they sounded cool, but ultimately I was unable to sway him.

I did manage to sneak in the mustard, nutmeg and paprika, as well as the onions, and he didn't seem to mind, so next time perhaps I'll manage to branch out even further. So many delicious mac and cheese variations, so little time.

I also dressed up a can of cannellini beans for a little minty, lemony salad, but to be honest it was not the most exciting of dishes, and there was something kind of strange about the little celery bits mixed in there. There was also a little Worcestershire sauce, which I find somewhat of a problematic ingredient on things that aren't steak, which is admittedly the only thing I really ever use it in. Do you have any suggestions for fun and delicious ways to use Worcestershire? Because this was not really it. 

Luckily, my second side dish, maple, mustard and tahini glazed carrots, was absolutely dynamite. It's got a wonderful blend of sweet, spicy and acidic flavors. I might have eventually thought of the maple syrup/lemon juice combination, (which has proved genius before), but adding in mustard and tahini sounds legitimately crazy. So crazy, in fact, that I thought it just might be worth a shot.

I was right to take that chance, because this might just be my new favorite way to look carrots. The sauce perfectly coated the carrots and was incredibly easy to prepare. I also like that it uses ingredients that I usually have on hand. (Tahini is not one of my staples, so the one jar I've ever bought back in December for that edamame hummus is seemingly never-ending.) Just be sure to keep it very very light on the tahini, as a little bit definitely goes a long long way, and that peanut-y flavor can quickly become overpowering. Let the mustard and maple syrup dominate, with tahini and lemon juice providing the background notes, and you're sure to love this dish.

So, to recap, though the mac and cheese wasn't as unusual as I would have liked, and the beans didn't wow me (basically, if you want a cannellini bean salad, tonno e fagioli is 100% the way to go), you really should make these awesome carrots.

Maple Mustard and Tahini Glazed Carrots
adapted from

1 lb carrots
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
1 tsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
freshly ground pepper

Wash and peel the carrots, slicing them into sticks. (If you want to get fancy, use the little kind with the greens still on, trimming to leave a half inch of the stems). Fill a frying pan with 1 inch of water and bring to boil. Stir in generous pinch of salt and place carrots side by side in water.
Cook until just soft and water is nearly evaporated (about 6 minutes, depending on size of carrots). Remove from heat, drain remaining water and set aside.

Whisk together maple syrup, mustard, tahini and lemon juice in the pan over medium heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Return carrots to the skillet and sauté for 1-2 minutes to coat carrots and heat through. Dressing will thicken slightly. Remove from heat and serve.

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